Probe into controversial D’Urban Park Project hits brick wall …AG points to need for more financial records

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The controversial D’Urban Park in Georgetown

As the probe into the controversial D’Urban Park Project continues, Auditor General Deodat Sharma says he is dissatisfied with the information his agency has gathered thus far and would, therefore, need more documents to complete the task.

Last week, the Public Infrastructure Ministry said in a statement that it had already handed over documents requested by the Auditor General’s Office. But Sharma was quoted by Guyana Times as saying that while he was in receipt of those documents, more financial records are needed before the audit is completed into the multimillion-dollar project.

“We sent a draft [report], they have now responded but we are now combining their response in the original queries and we’re sending back that report to them because we still haven’t gotten quite a few documents. So I’ll be sending that to the (Permanent Secretary of the Public Infrastructure Ministry Kenneth Jordan) requesting some more information they said they have,” the AG was quoted by GTimes as saying.

Auditor General, Deodat Sharma

According to the Auditor General when asked, he is unsure how long the audit will last.

“We will have to wait and see the information we get. Basically, I’m still not satisfied with the information that we have… [As it is right now] the half of billion that was expended by the private company that cannot be explained which is what I had in my AG report already. Remember the company did some work and the Ministry took over it so how do you check that work and what they said, that’s the type of problems we have…,” Sharma asserted.

The coalition Government has come in for much criticism over D’Urban Park, its flagship project, with issues such as corruption and mismanagement of state resources taking the fore.

It was Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Irfaan Ali, who had requested that further probing be done by the Auditor General into specific projects including D’Urban Park, for which the AG in his 2015 report had listed that some G$36.5 million in Lotto funds was used for rehabilitative works.

Ali had stated that these requests were in relation to follow-ups from the findings that had been included in the AG’s 2015 report. In his 2015 report, the Auditor General had said that following checks on the accounts, it was found that while Government transferred G$1 billion of the Lotto money to the Consolidated Fund in 2015, it held on to just over half a billion dollars to remain under the control of the Ministry of the Presidency and it spent G$305 million on various activities.

The controversy surrounding the D’Urban Park Project exploded when it was revealed to the public that now Public Service Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine sat as a Director of a secret company, Homestretch Development Inc (HDI), which was established to collect funds from private companies to develop the Jubilee Park.

This information was initially omitted by Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson when he was being drilled by Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) in the National Assembly in 2016.

However, after this revelation was made, the Public Infrastructure Ministry took over the project, but by that time, some G$400 million was already expended by HDI.

 

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